Dutch Top Towns

The Netherlands being a tiny country, packs a strong bunch to the nuts for its number of quaint towns. If I am being honest, I don’t really know what qualifies as a town or city and one time I was speaking in front of 300+ people on a microphone and I tried to say the sentence I went to towns and cities and it came out like titties so now I am scarred for life from using those two words in a sentence. So, I stick with Top Towns. I have listed all the places I have been in the Netherlands because I am boastful like that. For getting there by public transport, you can use Google maps to navigate or 9292.nl/en.

Just the Hits:

These places are well worth a day trip from the capital. Some can even be grouped into one day.

  • Utrecht- close to Amsterdam yet different vibes. There are multiple trains per hour from Amsterdam that will get you here. This I would say is a day trip, especially if you go for lunch or enjoy one of the many pubs like Cafe Lebowski. Unlike Amsterdam, the canals in Utrecht are layered more. There are some restaurants and accommodation at the water level but then the street is higher up with shops. I didn’t explain that properly at all. So just look:
  • Monnickendam- the name alone says how fun it is. A waterside town north of Amsterdam
  • Edam- CHEESE but also cute little bridges over the water and adorable houses that my brother was taller than. I don’t know how many bridges there are but when a boat comes through, one guy has to bike to each one to raise them so the boat can pass underneath. It was the best.
  • Volendam- This waterside fishing village is near to Amsterdam and a perfect spot for lunch on the water.

Monnickendam, Edam and Volendam can be seen in one day since they are super close to each other. Having a car is best but I assume public transport would also get the job done.

  • Zaanse Schans- this is hella close to Amsterdam and hella touristy because of it but I love it. Windmills, klompen demos, cheese tastings, coloured old school buildings. What’s not to love? You can catch a train from Amsterdam Centraal and then get off at Zaandijk Zaanse Schans station. It is within walking distance from the station and you’ll know when you see it. The best is you may smell chocolate in the air since there is a factory nearby.
  • Giethoorn- Venice of the Netherlands, or so some random people on the internet say. A really cool place where certain residents can only get to their houses by boat or foot. It gets busy since the internet exists but in the summer you can enjoy water sports on the massive lake. Getting here from Amsterdam by public transport is a doozy, so good luck with that. I did manage it so it is totally doable.
  • Kinderdijk– this is badass. Again, it’s a doozy as a day trip from Amsterdam but totally doable. It is a town and a UNESCO world heritage site all at once.

What a Day:

If you have many a day to enjoy the Netherlands then I would suggest adding some of these to your list.

  • Broek in de Waterland- this is an area with gorgeous homes and a church. I biked here from Amsterdam.
  • Amersfoort- surprisingly really nice. It has cute canals with waterfront shops and restaurants. There is also a fortified archway thing, which is cool.
  • Hoorn- I am a bit biased since my oma was born here but it is a waterside town and the park there has so many doggies that I thought I would pass out from happiness.
  • Haarlem-a short train ride from Amsterdam. It is cute and delightful.
  • Den Haag- because government buildings and such are here, it has that. The best part is the beach called Scheveningen.
  • Texel- what a wild ride. There is a bus that you need to book since it doesn’t stop at any stops unless someone requests a pickup.
  • Vlieland really should be accessed via ferry from the Northern end of Texel (see post)
  • Maastricht- gorgeous bookshop inside a church
  • Leiden- a pretty city. There is a uni here with a gorgeous botanical garden and the painter Rembrandt spent some time here.

Not My Cup of Tea:

I love tea so even if it isn’t the best, I still drink it. So don’t be put off visiting the places below.

  • Voorschoten- this is the most hilarious thing since my family is from here but when you have Leiden right next to it, it sort of just feels like a tiny residential town, which it is. It has the Vlietland area though which is lovely for a stroll or bike around and there is a castle near it.
  • Rotterdam- The only city that was bombed during the war so it’s high-rise new. People are going to hate me for saying that especially since there are all these architectural wonders there
  • Alkmaar- there is one of those tourist cheese parties here and the rest is quaint
  • Muiden- there is a proper castle here but not much else in the small town
  • Groningen- A student city, there are a few cute courtyards, one garden and a market but that’s about it
  • Delft- very small and I can’t afford Delfts Blauw pottery, let alone the museum entrance fee
  • Gouda- it is quite small and I was slightly disappointed that there weren’t wheels of Gouda cheese rolling down all the streets.
  • Den Bosch (aka Denhahhahahah you will never be able to pronounce it- ‘s-Hertogenbosch)- it has a few nice shopping streets but overall not great.
  • Zwolle- it has a pretty superb bookstore called Waanders in de Broeren but other than that, not much else
  • Nijmegen- borders the river that runs off of the Rhine. There is also a yearly walking event here.
  • Purmerend- there is a lot of residential with a very small old town.
  • Den Helder- new and residential, nothing to see here folks. If you are from there, I am sorry but I went through on my way to the ferry terminal to go to Texel.
  • Valkenburg- it scared me a little. Not because I felt unsafe but because it was just a bit of a weird town. It is in the south, so enough said.
  • Tilburg- I went to a music festival called Pinkpop that is located near here. I didn’t spend much time in Tilburg but it was nothing flashy.
  • ?- I went to Zeeland by car with my fam on our way back from Maastricht. I want to say we ate lunch in Bergen om Zoom but I am almost sure that isn’t true. Let’s just say it was nothing memorable.
  • Apeldoorn- can be skipped.

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